The ink on Paul Manafort’s conviction papers hasn’t had time to properly dry yet. But already that conviction, and all the time and money US prosecutors eagerly poured into achieving it, could be headed for the dumpster.
US President Donald Trump is considering pardoning Manafort, his former campaign chairman, according to a Fox News reporter who interviewed Trump. Manafort was convicted of bank and tax fraud on Tuesday this week.
And if prosecutors and their Democratic supporters are surprised Trump might wield his veto powers, they’ve clearly had their heads buried deep in the sand. They’re up against a man holding the most powerful office in the world. And one who, unlike his predecessors, is not afraid to wield that power.
It was on Tuesday when Manafort was convicted of two counts of bank fraud, five counts of tax fraud and a single charge of failure to disclose foreign bank accounts.
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Will Trump pardon Manafort?
Trump tweeted about the verdict on Wednesday, which clearly showed a fondness for Manafort:
‘I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. “Justice” took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him…
‘…he refused to “break” — make up stories in order to get a “deal.” Such respect for a brave man!’
But nothing is set in stone. In fact, we are yet to hear Trump himself announce that he is considering a pardon. Instead, as reported by RAW, this possibility was given public awareness by a secondary source, in the form of Fox News reporter Ainsley Earhardt.
Earhardt had an interview with Trump on Wednesday, and claims it was here in which the President revealed ‘he would consider’ pardoning Manafort (her words). On the Fox News program Hannity, aired after the interview on Wednesday night, Earhardt followed up with her own thoughts on the issue:
‘I think he feels bad for Manafort. They were friends.’
Fox News had been showing excerpts of the interview before it was aired in its entirety on Thursday morning US time.
With all these hard-hitting issues circulating the media, there was certainly a lot of potential for this interview to spark controversy. However, the relatively cordial approach by Earhardt allowed Trump to steer clear of running his mouth in the wrong direction.
While the question ‘are you considering pardoning Paul Manafort’ was posed directly to the President, Trump did not answer in the affirmative. Rather, he simply stated ‘they got him…on things totally unrelated to the campaign’.
Conversation then switched to topics of immigration, the upcoming midterms and other anger-provoking politicians like Jeff Sessions. Trump was careful with his words, giving no ‘off the record’ information, and targeted no one other than the enemy that is ‘fake news’.
While it’s clear that Trump does in fact feel sorry for Manafort’s conviction, equating this to a desire to pardon his crimes seems may be too far a leap of a conclusion on Earhardt’s part.
Imogen van der Meer
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